New book says Hillary Clinton blamed husband's infidelity on abuse as a child
August 1st, 2014
09:51 AM ET
8 years ago

New book says Hillary Clinton blamed husband's infidelity on abuse as a child

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton told an interviewer in 1999 – the year after the Monica Lewinsky scandal rocked Bill Clinton's presidency – that the President's infidelity issues stemmed from his abusive mother and led to a sex addiction for the former president.

The comments come from an upcoming book by Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, whose book – "Timeless: Love, Morgenthau and Me" – is set to hit bookshelves in late August. Clinton's comments come from an interview she granted Franks, at the time a writer for the short lived Talk magazine.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='danmericacnn']

"He was abused," Clinton told Franks. "When a mother does what she does, it affects you forever."

Clinton continued: "I am not going into it, but I'll say that when this happens in children, it scars you. You keep looking in all the wrong places for the parent who abused you."

Franks does not specify the nature of the abuse in the the book passage and writes that the then-first lady "declined to give me details."

Franks does, however, write the Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Bill Clinton had a sex addiction because of the abuse.

"I asked her when she thought Bill's sexual addiction began," Franks writes. "Did she know about it when they married?"

"She shook her head no," writes Franks, "and then became more animated as she started to talk about his mother."

Hillary Clinton told Franks that Bill Clinton's mother "was a doozy," according to the book, which was first reported on by the New York Daily News.

The interview, however, never was run in full and Franks left out much of the stuff Hillary Clinton said about Bill Clinton and abuse. Instead, Franks ran this quote attributed to Hillary Clinton:

"He [Bill Clinton] was so young, barely 4, when he was scarred by abuse. … There was terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There's always a desire to please each one."

Tina Brown, the publisher of Talk Magazine, said that the New York Daily News story was the "first I heard that the story was watered down and there were all these quotes."

"Obviously wish I had known," she said in an email to CNN. "The story made enormous news at the time with the 'it was a sin of weakness' quote but it seems there was a lot more not revealed by Lucinda then for some reason."

In the book passage, Franks reflects on why she never published part of the story.

"Abuse is a non-specific concept that can refer to any number of behaviors, some more severe than others," Franks wrote. "In any event, it was not Bill's memory, it was Hillary's – and she wasn't even there."

Franks continues: "So, for the article, I wrote up one part of the interview that she had given me on the plane and described the abusive atmosphere in the President's childhood home and the constant conflict between his mother and his grandmother over him."

Later in the book, Franks writes that she "did not regret the judgment call we had made."

It has long been known that Bill Clinton was raised in a complicated and abusive household.

Bill Clinton never knew his biological father Bill Blythe, who died in a car accident months before his son was born in 1946.

While the death left Virginia Kelley to raise young Bill, for the first few years of his life, Kelley had little to no role in Clinton's upbringing. When Bill was one-year old, Kelley decided to move to Louisiana and get a degree in anesthesiology, leaving her young child in the care of her parents.

When Kelley returned to Arkansas three years later, she quickly married Roger Clinton, Sr., a man her parents disapproved of, and someone who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic.

"Bill protected me and took responsibility at such an early age," Kelley once said of her son. "There is no way I can describe to you what he has meant to me."

After a quick divorce when Bill Clinton was 15, Kelley and Clinton got back together in 1962. Bill Clinton was strongly against the remarriage and according to a 1994 Washington Post profile, he told Kelley she was "making a big mistake, mother."

Once remarried, however, Bill Clinton – at that time known as Bill Blythe – took the Clinton last name as a way to support his mother.

Hillary Clinton has also long blamed her husband's infidelity on issues with his upbringing.

In a conversation with Diane Blair in 1998, Blair claims Hillary Clinton mentioned that she and Bill Clinton spoke with a psychologist who dealt with family therapy and sexual infidelity problems.

"Most men with fidelity problems raised by two women and felt conflicts between them," Blair wrote in a diary about her conversation with Clinton. The psychologist had "read about Bill's bio; grandmother despised Virginia, tried to get custody of Bill; Bill adored by his mother; but she left him, etc. etc."

Blair's writing on personal conversations with Hillary Clinton were part of recently discovered archives at the University of Arkansas. Blair, who was a longtime friend and confidant of Hillary Clinton's, kept detailed notes of her interactions with the first family at the hopes of one day publishing a book about them.

CNN requested a comment on the book from Hillary Clinton's spokesman, but never received one.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Don't wanna talk about those jobs numbers this morning CNN?

    August 1, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. just saying

    yes.... how sad. bill was a victim... hillary was a victim and they were dead broke.... sniff..sniff...

    hillary clinton definitely has mental problems.

    August 1, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Merle McClung

    Why is this double, no, triple heresay news?

    August 1, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. tomdavie

    This may be true and all but what difference, at this point, could it possibly make?

    August 1, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. Mete Kroo

    I don't think Clinton's sexuality back when he was a president is not because of his mom but he himself. It was his love for sex that gave rise to that problem. His mom gave birth to him, take care of him and brought him to that level in life. That it is.

    August 1, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. Tony D

    yeah, yeah, yeah, we know... If your a liberal, nothing is EVER your fault, your doing, especially anything involving bad or illegal personal conduct. How sad and pathetic to go through life claiming victimhood at every turn, never feeling like you are in control of your life and actions. How could we have elected such a psychological basket case? And now be asked to vote for his enabler?

    And the lefties say the guy with a great family and no accusations of sexual assaults is the devil reincarnated! Welcome to the propaganda of the left.

    August 1, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. rick

    But the facts are that if ANY guy was married to hillary. Thats enough abuse to begin with. I personaly dont blame the guy.. Everyone does make mistakes. Bills first was obvious. And by the replies seen so far.. Many more think the same.

    August 1, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Locker

    Gee.. a bunch of people who completely ignore subject of the article and use this as an opportunity to troll. You know what I'm sick of.. the stupid half of the country also being the right wing side of the country. The anti-science half of the country being the fundamentalist side of the country. The "allergic to logic" side of the country riding an elephant to nowhere.

    August 1, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. saltydog77

    Hillary's most famous statement... It's not MY fault!

    August 1, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Chris..E.Al

    Whats next ? Hilly and billy have top secret matching tattoos on their back sides ? Snicker Snicker

    August 1, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Don Parker

    How low will she go, I am sure Bill is not happy about her releasing this.

    She seems to blame everyone else all the time. Never takes responsibility herself. And you want her to be president?

    August 1, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House

    Don't wanna talk about those jobs numbers this morning CNN?
    I'll talk about the. New payrolls came in less than expected. Unemployment rate went up. Labor participation rate still near all-time low. Did I miss anything?

    August 1, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. wetcoastacerider

    And the PR mudslinging machinery scorers again. Column inches for a journalist half a lifetime from her Pulitzer. How does this supposedly relate to HER marriage, the supposed topic of the book? Answer, it doesn't. But sex swells and anything linking Clinton and sex sells even better. Vendu.

    August 1, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. al gore

    noww hillary is a psychologist? so funny

    August 1, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Hamlet

    Typical liberal, Bill certainly can't be responsible for his own actions; it's his mom's fault.

    August 1, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    This may be true and all but what difference, at this point, could it possibly make?
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important. The transcripts are easy to find online.

    August 1, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Bruce

    Locker – I don't get it. What part of this story has anything to do with the "right wing" part of the country, or the anti-science part of the country. This is clearly, at least to me, a story about an interview that was only printed, in part, due to some unknown reason, although people can draw their own conclusions, about a young boy with a complicated history concerning his mother and grandmother. Bill Clinton's inability to come to grips with a "sexual dysfunction" did not hold him back from becoming President. If it's a subtle attack piece on Hillary then that's a different matter entirely and people can rightly draw their own conclusions as to why this is news.

    August 1, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. treblemaker

    Everybody thinks they can do a better job than the President. There is no "President for Dummies" or "President 101" handbook to follow. He is truly on his own. Once a person becomes President, ideally they are above all politics. He is the living conscience of the nation, a messenger of hope for the nation and the world. He takes on all our burdens, and only asks for help from Congress and the people. He must do what is right, and not what's fashionably convenient for the times. The rest of us are nothing more than like the fans at a sporting event. We don't see what's on the inside. So for all intents and purposes, we get the President that we deserve because we voted him in. We are responsible.

    I blame every ill of our nation SQUARELY on Congress!! Both houses contain the most duplicitous individuals known to man. Their votes are bought and paid for-every one of them. They have no moral compass. The President tries, but he can't "kick against the pricks". Instead of being a balancing force with a left wing AND a right wing (you need both wings working in tandem in order to fly), they have become a stone wall of indifference with no heart to care for those of us less fortunate-and no cajones to take action when needed. The trouble is, we voted them in, too, so that means we are also responsible for our lot in life.

    President Clinton rose above his surroundings-that's more than most of us ever do. So what if he has faults? We do too! And one more thing-Bill and Hillary are still married to each other for better or worse.

    August 1, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. jeanne farano

    You have no idea what mental abuse is like. I will carry mine to the grave.

    August 1, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. kenman14

    WHAT a load of BS, claiming years after his mother's death that she was abusive in order to excuse his moral failing, and HERS, for marrying him and staying with him for political opportunity. The whole relationship is likely little more than a farce!

    August 1, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Ken

    The Donkeys are already distancing themselves from BHO as quickly as they can which means that Hill-Bill-Ary willl be blaming him as well. Will she have a wheel of furtune installed in Bills old Oral office to spin when needed? Its Bush's fault, It's BHO's fault, It's Bills mom's fault.

    August 1, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. roxy

    um you get therapy and then you move on after you learn how to let it go. nothing should affect you forever – typical liberal spatter about not my fault, not their fault, its no one's fault.

    August 1, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. sly

    Fact: 65% of Americans divorce
    Fact: 85% of Americans have had an affair.

    Clinton straying after 30 years of marriage meant nothing, zero, (0) to me.
    How he led America to great success as President meant everything!

    Clinton – next to President Obama, you are the best President since Ike.

    August 1, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |

    Please. No doubt males are more visual and all humans are prone to weakness but it can be controlled like anything else. He was always a charming guy and knows full well he should have kept himself away from situations that were not good for his marriage. Bill did a lot of good as President with all his other flaws that are not the least bit unusual.

    August 1, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. ME

    Still excuses for Bill's philandering. That ought to go over well with her liberal female base.

    August 1, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5